[That was a great duel, Challenger.]
I don’t think I can agree to that.
The duel ended in just ten seconds after I started to use Skills.
Could this really be called a good duel?
[I have learned a lot from fighting this duel. I think I’ll be busy for a long while.]
The monk was breaking into laughter as I looked at his face, dumbfounded.
The monk collapsed to the floor, gushing blood from his chest.
Although the knife went halfway into his chest, it seemed that he was not having any trouble carrying on a conversation.
“You will be busy for a long while you say? Is there a reason why you are certain I won’t kill you right now?”
[I do not. However, that won’t be bad either.]
What a crazy bastard.
“What a crazy bastard.”
I mumbled curses as I walked past the monk.
The monk already acknowledged defeat and no longer wished to fight. It does not feel right to kill him.
If I was like my usual self, I would have killed anyone and anything on sight, saying it is for the experience points.
It’s strange. I’m making a different decision than the usual.
Is it because the monks looks similar to humans?
I remembered Idy strongly advising me not to judge others based on appearances.
Someone’s life was not more or less precious because of one’s resemblance to a human being.
However, I don’t think that’s why I’m feeling like this.
It is not the first time that I met enemies who look like humans.
I already had killed some of the monks in the 13th Floor Stage as I progressed to the higher rooms with 19 wins.
I think I killed about five of them.
I am not sure.
It didn’t feel right. I walked past the monk. I opened the door and was about to leave the room; at that moment, the monk said,
[Challenger, you should be careful from the 20th room and beyond. Let me give you an advice. I recommend that you close your eyes.]
… Seriously, geez.
“In the middle of the battle, try predicting the opponent’s movements and thoughts. You guys are too obsessed with perfecting the form of the moves. However, in the end, isn’t your art of fighting built for the sake of fighting the opponent?”
[Uuhuhuhu. Thank you for that reply. I am grateful for the advice. Unlike the Master Monk’s words, you are not completely lacking in manners.]
I left the 19th Room, and the message appeared again.
[Would you like to continue?]
I closed the 19th Room’s wooden door and took a moment at the corridor to think.
Am I insane?
Was I attacked psychologically?
I felt around the wall and checked the response from the mana.
The ceiling, walls, floor… There was no response.
This place was a Stage inside the Tutorial.
Everything was going to be reset when the next Round began.
The dead monks would be revived, and they would also lose all of their memories from the last round.
So, why am I doing something so meaningless?
I had told myself this before.
I told myself that I would not treat life carelessly even if they are monsters and that they are going to be revived after the round restarts.
I told myself that I should not enjoy killing them like a video game.
My vow was not about being a pacifist.
If it was for clearing a Stage or for further developing my power, I have been killing enemies without hesitation plenty of times.
Many times, I repeated the challenges and killed the same enemies over and over.
Back then, when I was fighting and slaughtering them, I never felt any sense of regret or sympathy toward them.
However, what was that earlier?
[The God of Adventure is paying attention to you.]
[God of Slowness is paying attention to you.]
… I don’t know.
Perhaps I am simply being whimsical.
Damn it all. I think I should go find a player who used to be a psychologist.
* * *
[Welcome, Challenger. You must have gone through a lot to get this far.]
The 20th Room’s monk welcomed me.
The further the room, the monks seemed to be stronger and more welcoming.
Could it be that this Stage’s theme calculates increases in strength and politeness in conjunction with the room number?
[Sit for a while. It will take you some time to get used to this as well.]
As the monk said, I just plummeted to the floor.
The 20th Room’s environment was very strange.
The rooms so far were all enveloped in utter darkness without a single candle light.
However, the darkness inside the 20th Room was a little different.
This is no ordinary darkness.
Something is blocking my view.
Is it magic? I don’t sense any magical energy response.
This is as if… It feels similar to the sensation from a Power Skill.
This is my first time experiencing such extreme darkness.
I rubbed my eyes and looked forward.
The monk must be within a few steps, yet I cannot see him.
I focused on my sight and stared for a while, but I couldn’t see the monk at all.
Let alone the monk, I couldn’t even see my hands very well.
This must be why the last monk said I should just close my eyes.
I tensed my mana.
I activated the Detection Skill, allowing me to see the monk’s appearance and location.
It would be hard to fight him with just this.
[You don’t need to cringe so much. I am in the same condition, aren’t I?]
“You must have stayed her for days. How is that the same condition?”
[Uuuhurhur. That is the fate dealt to you, Challenger.]
Did I say something funny?
I thought about how I carefully observed the surface of the target of the detection with mana when I was training on the Detection Skill.
By doing the same thing, I could see the monk’s location and appearance, and even the fine detail of his clothing and facial expressions.
I was quite used to the mana operation now, so I was able to do it without difficulty after focusing my mind for a moment.
The problem was that carrying out a combat while maintaining this was a whole other matter.
I got up.
[Will you be all right? You are probably not used to this yet. I can wait a little longer for you. I want to have the duel after you have completely adapted to this room’s environment.]
“I am sorry, but let’s cut the chit-chat. I need to maintain focus.”
Having heard what I said, the monk got up silently and took a stance.
I focused on the monk’s appearance and brought out the backsword.
I think this will be tough.
Too much of my mental focus is being spent on the mana operation for the Detection Skill.
I need to finish this by focusing on using Power Skills, which do not drain my mental focus.
First, I closed my eyes.
I can’t see very well with my eyes at the moment anyway, so it is just disrupting my focus.
It would be better for me to close my eyes and focus on things being detected through mana.
I felt somewhat angry at the 19th Room’s monk’s advice, which was frustratingly correct.
As soon as I applied the deteriorating effect of the Soul Steal on the monk, I used Blink, emerging next to the monk’s side.
Because I couldn’t be certain about the distance measured, instead of the front, I chose the side.
I swung the sword, aiming at the monk’s neck. The sword cut through the air.
Damn it. In a space like this, he can sense my movement which was done through Blink?
Through the mana operation, I focused on the monk who lowered his body and dodged the sword’s edge. Watching it gave me severe dizziness.
Desperately holding on to the mana operation, I squeezed out all of my mental focus.
The monk’s knuckles were flying in.
It was too late to dodge it.
I raised my shield and blocked it.
It sounded like a cannonball drop. My body was thrown against my back and collided with the wall.
I was shocked again when my body collided with a wall.
As for my shield… I cannot see it, but it was probably shattered.
The monk opened his mouth again.
He is probably going to say something like we should fight after I got more used to this darkness.
I put the shield and backsword in the inventory and raised my mana.
I summoned the Talaria’s Wings and motioned them to surround my entire body. I raised my arms and crossed them to protect my head.
Like that, I used the Blink and collided with the monk.
Talaria’s Wings absorbed the initial shock. However, I had to withstand the secondary shock in full when my body collided with Talaria’s Wings.
Damn it. I don’t remember when the last time I resorted to this kind of suicide method was.
I was shocked, but it was far better than what the monk must have gotten.
I got a grip first and threw the knife at the monk who was thrown off to the distance.
Surprisingly, despite being in middle of all this, the monk precisely struck the knife with lower edge of his hand.
However, he was not able to block my hand which I thrusted at him after using the Blink again.
The mana, which was surrounding my hand like a sharp knife, tore through the monk’s skin.
The monk twisted his body and kicked.
This is dangerous.
Damn it. I even used the Battle Focus… Let alone dodging it, I cannot even block it.
I saw it too late.
It appeared to be a reverse kick.
I didn’t even get to see most of his motions.
Because I was trying to sense such twisting movement through mana, I was unable to immediately identify the target point and respond.
It was not that there was a problem in operating mana. After I successfully attacked the monk, my mental focus faltered.
My waist was about to be struck by the monk’s kick. I focused mana on the area.
I just need to endure this.
I disengaged Battle Focus.
This is no time to be maintaining Battle Focus for long.
I was thrown to the back again and collided with the wall.
A fluid ejected from my mouth. I wiped it off and focused on the monk and my body again.
First. My body… the ribs are cracked.
Soon, the pain will slowly emerge.
Other than that, I don’t have any injuries that would hinder my movements.
The monk is charging toward me.
He is already infected by the Poison Energy from the mana earlier.
I can win. I just need to hold out.
I flipped the grip of the knife on my left hand. On my right hand, I held the backsword.
I have not used dual wielding that many times.
Instead of using both arms offensively, I am going to use the left hand, which is wielding the knife, as a replacement for shield.
I am an expert at this.
There probably are only few people out there who can use an arm as the broken shield as well as I can.
Shouting, the monk was charging at me. I thought about trying to get used to this space as I watched him run toward me.
* * *
As I thought, this is the best method for getting used to things.
Once the situation has been created in that being unable to adapt would result in certain death, the body will always adapt to the condition in order to survive.
Infected by poison, the monk was running amok and charging at me to end the duel before the poison could be fatal.
To block and parry his attacks, I had to adapt to this space somehow and accurately detect the monk’s movements.
Of course, I succeeded.
“With this, the duel is decided, right?”
[That’s right. It was a great duel, Challenger.]
Do you think so?
You were poisoned, and your opponent was gutlessly avoiding and blocking your attacks to draw out the fight. You were chasing me like a madman, and now, you ended up in a pathetic state of being unable to move.
If I was that monk, would I accept this as a good duel?
Thinking that, I put the empty potion bottle back in the inventory.
The monk coughed and threw up blood.
The poison is probably quite strong.
I brought out an antidote from the inventory.
“It’s an antidote. If you answer my questions, I’ll give this to you.”
[If it is something I can tell you, then…]
You are in that state, yet you are adding a condition while sitting around?
Wait, you are lying around.
“How many rooms are in this place?”
[There are 33 rooms. The Master Monk will be at the very last room.]
That’s more than I thought.
[Is that the end of your questions?]
“No. I have one more.”
Actually, this is the reason why I’m putting the antidote up as the reward.
“How do I adapt to this space? Tell me.”
[Challenger, it seemed you were already pretty well-adapted?]
“Not as well as you have. I want to hear your method.”
[In other words, you want me to summarize the fundamentals of my art and hand them over to you.]
“If you don’t want to, then fine. In that case, no antidote for you.”
[Uuhurhurhur. I’ll tell you. If you are intending on challenging the next room, then you will have to learn this properly.]
I poured in antidote to the monk’s mouth.
Before long, having drunk the antidote, the monk sat down and checked his body.
You sure recover quickly.
Your body really is unbelievable.
[Now then, shall we start?]
You want to start right away?
“Let’s start after resting for a bit.”
[Won’t it be better to move right away? It would be easier to master this while you still have the same sensation you felt during the battle.]
I know what you are saying, but…
I can’t right now.
“It’s time for me to eat.”
* * *
[You acquired Mana Circuit Lv. 12]
[You acquired Detection Lv. 7]
[You acquired Battle Focus Lv.20